• Feb 08, 2001
    294 p., 5 x 7 3/4

    ISBN: 9780300089028
  • Paper: $17.00 
Political Science


Militant Islam, Oil and Fundamentalism in Central Asia

  • Ahmed Rashid


"This is an impressive analysis of the Taliban movement in Afghanistan, of its background and impact on that country, and of the wider regional and geopolitical implications of the Taliban’s advent to power. It would be hard to see how anyone could rival the range and detail of this account: this bids well to be the leading book on the subject."—Fred Halliday, Professor of International Relations at LSE, author of Revolution and World Politics: The Rise and Fall of the Sixth Great Power

“A fabulous piece of journalism.”—Sebastian Junger, author of The Perfect Storm and Fire

“Rashid . . . brings urgency to a conflict in Central Asia of which most Americans and many Europeans are mostly ignorant. He reveals a nation with a rich culture of contradictions and complexities that have never been fathomed by its numerous conquerors.”—Booklist

“Rashid has long been one of the best historians of Central and South Asia.”—Booklist

“Rashid spent 21 years compiling the data and interpretive materials in this absorbing and disquieting book. . . . As the world enters an ominous stage of history, Ahmed Rashid’s book can serve as an excellent primer, guide book and briefing of what the future may hold.”—Arnold Ages, Chicago Jewish Star

“Rashid . . . has become a leading commentator on Islam-leading fundamentalism.”Noreen S. Ahmed-Ullah and R.C. Longworth, Chicago Tribune

“Ahmed Rashid, the world’s most influential writer on the Afghan conflict, penetrates the secretive organisation whose aims to build a new Islamic empire will ‘ultimately lead to war’.”—Daily Telegraph

“A brilliant and absorbing explanation of the radical Islamic movement and Afghanistan’s wretched situation, Taliban became required reading not just for journalists, but for the world’s senior politicians.”—Alex Spillius, Daily Telegraph

“[Rashid] tells a complicated story clearly. He places the rise of the Taliban in the context of the Afghan civil war, the energy policies of the Central Asian Republics and the interests of American, Saudi, and Pakistani intelligence services. He has interviewed almost all the players, whether generals or politicians, of this Great Game. . . . Anyone interested in South Asia must take note of this book’s analysis before this volatile region explodes.”—Robin Banerji, Daily Telegraph

“[An] immensely informative book.”—Economist

“The best book on the Taliban.”—L. Carl Brown, Foreign Affairs

“An excellent study by a journalist who has covered Afghanistan for over 20 years, knows all the important Afghan leaders and reads widely from scholarly works and the media. . . . Rashid illuminates the struggle for control of Afghanistan by great and lesser powers—not just the United States, Russia, Pakistan, and Iran but also Afghanistan’s newly independent Central Asian neighbors—and demonstrates how little they have to show for their efforts.”—L. Carl Brown, Foreign Affairs

“Rashid provides and incredible history of the Taliban and Afghanistan. . . . His book is enjoyable, highly informative, and provides information and insight into a culture that will impact us all.”—Jewish Herald Voice

“No reader looking for an informative, detailed, readable account surveying the rise of the ‘student movement’ known as the Taliban in 1994 and events in the region through the year 2000 will be disappointed. No reader of this book will fail to be moved by the tragic modern history of the Afghan people. . . . This work is highly recommended to any concerned citizen of the world.”—Uli Schamiloglu, Journal of Asian Studies

“An extensively researched analysis by a noted journalist. . . . A fascinating survey.”—Joshua Sinai, Journal of Homeland Security

“[Rashid] covers the origin and rise of the Taliban, its concepts of Islam on questions of gender roles and drugs, and the importance of the country to the development of energy resources in the region. . . . A lucid and thoroughly researched account, it is recommended for academic and most public libraries.”—Library Journal

"[Rashid’s book] is virtually the only informed work on the men who, since 1994, have ruled almost all of Afghanistan. . . . How the Afghans and their country were historically turned into an object of power politics by the Persians, the Mongols, the British, the Soviets and the Pakistanis, is the subject of his indispensable book. . . . His chapter, ’Global Jihad: The Arab-Afghans and Osama Bin Laden,’ is especially incisive, detailing how the United States enlisted thousands of foreign Muslim recruits to help end the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan."—Steve Wasserman, Los Angeles Times Book Review

Taliban . . . provides an important perspective untainted by excessive emotion or jingoism. Rashid’s is an exceptional book that sorts out a multitude of questions for the non-Central Asian specialist trying to make sense of current headlines. . . . Rashid’s acute foresight produced a book that—if taken seriously by U.S. policymakers at the time it was first published—might have helped prevent a history-altering catastrophe.”—Middle East Insight

“This is a fine book—erudite, concise, sure-footed, packed with information and insight, easy to read. On each of the three major interrelated themes covered here—the history of the Taliban and the internal politics of Afghanistan; Islam and the Taliban; the ‘new Great Game’ of oil and gas in Central Asia—the author is illuminating and thorough.”—Dilip Hiro, Middle East International

“Because of the continued unrest in the region, I highly recommend this book as an introduction too what future intervention forces might face.”—Lt. Youssef Aboul-Enein, Military Review

“An excellent political and historical account of the movement’s rise to power.”—Katha Pollitt, Nation

“The standard work in English on the Taliban.”--Christopher de Bellaigue, New York Review of Books (on the first edition)


“[An] excellent work.”—Jason Elliot, New York Times

"Seminal."—John Kifner, New York Times

“No book provides as much insight into the Taliban movement’s rise and success. . . . This is a must read for anyone wanting to understand America’s new war.”—Larry P. Goodson, New York Times

“The broader story here is powerful. Mr. Rashid’s book is essentially a history of the destruction of one of the more ruggedly enduring Central Asia cultures. It depicts how Afghanistan, which survived the British-Russian Great Game of the 19th century, has been reduced to a fragmented, failed state in a vicious new Great Game at the end of the 20th. . . . One learns . . . a great deal from Mr. Rashid’s book about the nature of local Central Asian politics and the consequences of interference by outside powers. . . . [A] valuable and informative work.”—Richard Bernstein, New York Times

“[A] supremely insightful book about Afghanistan’s Taliban regime. . . . Rashid bases his account on detailed reporting and travel throughout Afghanistan and interviews with most of the Taliban’s elusive top leadership. As a narrative, it is gripping. . . . Rashid’s book is superbly reported, a window into a world that remains largely closed to American eyes.”—Shankar Vedantam, Philadelphia Inquirer

“The book gives a vivid account of the Taliban, based on numerous first-hand interviews and meetings, widespread travel over many years to Afghanistan and its neighbours, and describes the bewildering politics and ethnic mix that is Afghanistan. . . . In Downing Street, British Prime Minister Tony Blair is said to refer to it, the book is a must-read at Japan’s Foreign Ministry and German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer cites it in public.”—Jane Macartney, Reuters Asia

“Ahmed Rashid has long been known as an author of works of the utmost distinction dealing with politics and society in South and Central Asia. His new book on the Taliban will be required reading not only for specialists, but for anyone who wishes to learn how the wider world contributed to the emergence of a pariah regime from the wreckage of the Afghans’ courageous struggle against the armed forces of the Soviet Union.”—William Maley, Royal Institute of International Affairs

“Rashid marshals the vast amount of information he has accumulated over decades of covering the area into a long, sad story and tells it with finesse. His book is a gripping account of one of the horror stories of post-Cold War politics.”—Jonathan Groner, Salon.com

“Rashid’s densely detailed reportage portrays a country in ruins and the people who seek to control it. . . . Anyone contemplating new adventures in Afghanistan—whether to save its women from persecution, rescue the state from further fragmentation or save themselves from terrorist backlash—might first consult Rashid’s book.”—Paula R. Newberg, San Francisco Chronicle

“[Rashid] knows as much about his subject as any other writer and one could not wish for a better guide to the fabulous complexities of what is one of the most tragic national stories of the past century.”—Jason Burke, Sunday Observer

“[An] excellent book.”—Rupert Edis, Sunday Telegraph

“[R]ead this remarkable book and the bewildering complexity of Afghan politics and the deadly overspill of chaos, narcotics, and sectarian violence into the surrounding region will become clear.”—Patrick Seale, Sunday Times

"Rashid [is] an intrepid . . . journalist. . . . . The timely appearance of Rashid’s book served to defend the U.S. decision to depose the Taliban."—Mary Habeck, The American Interest

“An excellent political and historical account of the movement’s rise to power. Gives understanding to one of the world’s most extreme and radical Islamic organizations. Explains why Afghanistan is the world center for international terrorism.”—Ruth Jean Shaw, University Press Books for Public and Secondary School Libraries

“Rashid presents an authoritative, carefully researched view of the Taliban. The book will fascinate and inform the scholar and the lay reader.”—Susan Stewart, University Press Books for Public and Secondary School Libraries

“Rashid, who has covered Afghanistan for more than two decades, gives an account of the Taliban’s rise to power and tells why Afghanistan has become the center of international terrorism. For a really chilling read, the appendix includes a ‘sample of Taliban decrees’ relating to women and other cultural issues, after the capture of Kabul, 1996.”—USA Today (Best-Selling Books -107 in the top 150 list)

“[Rashid is] Pakistan’s best and bravest reporter.”—Christopher Hitchens, Vanity Fair 

“Rashid . . . provides the most reliable and absorbing account of the militant Central Asian movement that has given shelter to Osama bin Laden, addressing the Taliban’s complicated economic, diplomatic, sociological and military origins.”—Lorraine Adams, Washington Post Book World

“[A] thorough, authoritative exegesis.”—Peter Bergen, Washington Post Book World

“A compelling read. Rashid certainly knows how to tell a good story. . . . At the same time, he provides a thorough treatment of the subject. . . . To date, Taliban is the only book on this mysterious organization. Fortunately, it is good one.”—Lucy Jones, Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

“A brilliant work, engrossing and wholly convincing.”—Neville Maxwell, World Affairs

"Invaluable."—Raymond Bonner, the New York Times [From the Times review of Rashid's new book, Descent into Chaos]

“Rashid combines close journalistic field experience with the Taliban and long-term knowledge of Afghanistan in this work of great depth and understanding.”—Barnett R. Rubin, author of The Fragmentation of Afghanistan and The Search for Peace in Afghanistan